“Today” co-anchor Hoda Kotb will be the keynote speaker at this year’s annual Breast Cancer Gala.
Breast cancer survivor Ms Kotb, who presents the NBC morning show with Kathy Lee Gifford, is no stranger to Cayman, having been the guest speaker at the 2009 gala.
“Hoda was here in 2009, was a tremendous hit with all attendees, and subsequently became the foundation’s patron,” said Heather McLaughlin, administrator of the Cayman Islands Breast Cancer Foundation, which hosts the glitzy annual event.
“I think every person in that room felt special because she talked to, and had photos taken with, every one of them,” she added.
Ms McLaughlin, who is also a breast cancer survivor, was enlisted in 2009 to find a speaker and entertainment for that year’s gala. “So I went in search of a breast cancer survivor, decided on Hoda and plugged away relentlessly until she agreed to come. We’ve remained in touch ever since but this is the first year that she’s found the time to attend the gala again,” she said.
This year’s gala will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Saturday, 5 October, and tickets are expected to go on sale this week.
Ms Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2007 after her gynaecologist discovered lumps in her breast during a routine exam. She underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery and went public with the story of her battle with breast cancer on October 2007 when she was interviewed on the Today Show by Ann Curry. Since then, she has been a staunch advocate for women who have breast cancer or have survived the disease and has become a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society.
Every year since 2009, Ms Kotb has donated a visit to the Today Show set for the Breast Cancer Gala auction, which is packaged with air tickets donated by Cayman Airways and a hotel stay. She also usually delivers a message via video to attendees at the annual event.
The Breast Cancer Gala was first held in 2008. That first year, it was meant to be a one-off fundraiser to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Brenda Lund Tibbetts, who died from breast cancer.
The event was such a success that organisers Kim Lund, James Bovell and John Broadbent decided to form the Breast Cancer Foundation and hold an annual fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton.
Major sponsors are already signing up for the gala, with Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd. pledging its support as a five-year partner recently.
Last year’s gala, at which the keynote speakers were Bill and Giuliana Rancic, raised more than $160,000. Money raised at the event goes towards financial aid and prosthetics programmes run by the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, as well as funding for the Cayman Islands Cancer Registry and the breast cancer initiatives of the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens.
For more information about the Breast Cancer Foundation and its gala or to book tickets, email [email protected]